Elegy | Types of Elegy


Elegy | Types of Elegy

Elegy Types of Elegy

Elegy | Types of Elegy

The Elegy is a type of poetry that deals with the theme of lamentation for a dead person. Like lyrics, the Elegy is of Greek origin. Originally elegy treated a great variety of themes as- death, love, war, bravery, commemoration etc. and was distinguished from other types of poetry not by its subject matter (theme) but by its special meter called Elegiac Meter (a dactylic hexameter followed by a pentameter). The ancient Greek poet Theocritus, Bion, Moschus, and the Roman poet Virgil were pioneers in the creation of Elegies.

Elegy as a special type of poetry was introduced to English poets during the Renaissance. The English poet Edmund Spencer, John Milton, Mathew Arnold, Thomas Gray, Tennyson, P. B. Shelley, and some others wrote successful elegies in English taking the ancient Greek and Roman poet Virgil as their models. But in English, its theme becomes restricted to mourning for a dead person only. Now an elegy is judged not by its meter but by its subject matter which is lamentation or an expression of personal bereavement and sorrow. Among English elegies mention may be made of Spencer’s Shepherd’s Calendar, Milton’s Lycidas, Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written on Country Churchyard, Arnolds’ Thyrsis and Shelly’s Adonais.

The elegy as a distinct form of poetry has some common characteristics as- (1) mournfulness, (2) sincerity of emotion and expression, (3) reflectiveness, (4) subjectivity and (5) universality.

There is another form of elegy called Pastoral Elegy. Apart from bearing the general characteristics of an elegy, the Pastoral elegy is featured by (1) the portrayal of unsophisticated country life, (2) it takes a shepherd or shepherdess as its character who roams over from pasture to pasture lamenting over the death of his dearest one and fairies, nymphs and other herdsmen join in the lamentation, (3) it ends with the resignation to the inevitable.

The convention of this pastoral elegy dates back to Theocritus, a Greek poet of the third century B. C. Later on, Virgil a Roman poet of the first century B. C. wrote elegies in this pastoral tradition. In English, a good number of pastoral elegies were composed among which mention may be made of Spencer’s Shepherd’s Calendar, Milton’s Lycidas, Arnold’s Thyrsis, P. B. Shelley’s Adonais, and a few others. 0 0 0.


N. B. The article originally belongs to the book entitled ‘Menonimus Dictionary of Literary Terms.

Books on Literary Criticism by M. Menonimus:

  1. World Short Story Criticism
  2. World Poetry Criticism
  3. World Drama Criticism
  4. World Novel Criticism
  5. World Essay Criticism
  6. Indian English Poetry Criticism
  7. Indian English Poets and Poetry Chief Features
  8. Emily Dickinson’s Poetry-A Thematic Study
  9. Walt Whitman’s Poetry-A Thematic Study
  10. Critical Essays on English Poetry
  11. Tawfiq al-Hakim’s Novel: Return of the Spirit-An Analytical Study
  12. Tawfiq al-Hakim’s Novel: ‘Yawmiyyat Naib Fil Arayaf’-An Analytical Study
  13. Analytical Studies of Some Arabic Short Stories
  14. A Brief History of Arabic Literature: Pre-Islamic Period (500 AD-622 AD)
  15. A Brief History of Arabic Literature: Early Islamic Period (622 AD-661 AD) …

Related Search:

  1. Elegy Definition & Meaning
  2. Types of Elegy
  3. What is Elegy?
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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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